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Timeline of the French Revolution.

Events preceding but pertinent to the French Revolution[edit]



  • Start of Seven Years' War - which caused the situation to become increasingly more serious.




  • France declares war against Britain in support of the American colonies - the subsequent war worsens the debt situation further.


  • Treaty of Paris ends the American War - the success of the American colonists against a European power increases the ambitions of those wishing for reform in France


Financial crisis and Assembly of Notables[edit]



  • February 22: First Assembly of Notables meets against a background of state financial instability and general resistance by the nobility to the imposition of taxes and fiscal reforms.
  • March: Calonne's publication of his proposals and the intransigence of the Notables leads to a public clash and impasse
  • April 8: Louis dismisses both Calonne and the keeper of the seals, or minister of justice, Miromesnil, in an attempt to break the impasse
  • April 13: Louis appoints Lamoignon keeper of the seals
  • April 30: The Archbishop of Toulouse and vocal leader of the higher clergy, Loménie de Brienne is appointed chief minister of state
  • May 25: The first Assembly of Notables is dissolved
  • June: Brienne sends edicts for tax reform legislation to the parlements for registration
  • July 2: Parlement of Paris overwhelmingly rejects the royal legislation
  • August 6: Legislation passed at a lit de justice. Subsequently the parlement declares the registration was illegal. Supported by public opinion, it initiates criminal proceedings against the disgraced Calonne
  • August 15: Louis dismisses the Parisian parlement and orders the parlementaires to remove themselves to Troyes
  • August 19: Louis orders the closure of all political clubs in Paris
  • September: Civil uprest in the Dutch republic leads to its invasion by the Prussian army, and increases tensions in Paris. Brienne backs down with his legislative demands, settling for an extension of the vingtième tax, and the parlementaires are allowed to return to Paris.
  • November 19: A royal session of the Paris parlements for registration of new loans turns into an informal lit de justice when Louis doesn't allow a vote to be taken
  • November 20: The vocal opposition of the duc d'Orléans leads to his temporary exile by lettres de cachet, and the arrest and imprisonment of two magistrates


  • May 6: Orders for the arrest of two Parisian parlementaires, d'Eprémesnil and Goislard, who are most implacably opposed to the government reforms, are issued; the parlement declares its solidarity with the two magistrates
  • May 7: d'Eprémesnil and Goislard are imprisoned
  • May 8: Judicial reforms partly abolishing the power of parlements to review legislation are forced through the parlements by Lamoignon in a lit de justice timed to coincide with military sessions
  • June: Outcry over the enforced reforms ensues, and courts across France refuse to sit
  • July 5: Brienne begins to consider calling an Estates-General
  • August 8: After being informed that the royal treasury is empty, Brienne sets May 1 1789 as the date for the Estates-General in an attempt to restore confidence with his creditors
  • August 16: Repayments on government loans stop, and the French government effectively declares bankruptcy
  • Late August: Brienne resigns, and Jacques Necker replaces him as Minister of Finance; de Lomenie, Archbishop of Toulouse is made chief minister
  • September: Necker releases those arrested for criticising Brienne's ministry, leading to a proliferation of political pamphlets
  • September 14: Lamoignon resigns
  • November: The relapse of the ban on political clubs leads to the establishment of the "Society of Thirty" in Paris
  • November 6: Necker convenes a second Assembly of Notables to discuss the Estates-General
  • December 12: The second Assembly of Notables is dismissed, having firmly refused to consider doubling the representation of the Third Estate
  • December 27: Prompted by public controversy, Necker announces that the representation of the Third will be doubled, and that nobles and clergymen will be able to stand for the same


Estates-General and Constituent Assembly[edit]

  • May 5: Meeting of the Estates-General - voting to be by Estate, not by head
  • May 28: The Third Estate (Tiers Etat) begins to meet on its own, calling themselves "communes" (commons)
  • June 10: The Third Estate votes for the common verification of credentials, in opposition to the First Estate (the clergy) and the Second Estate (the aristocracy)
  • June 13: Some priests from the First Estate choose to join the Third Estate
  • June 17: The Third Estate (commons) declares itself to be the National Assembly
  • June 20: Third Estate/National Assembly are locked out of meeting houses by royal decree; the Third Estate chooses to continue despite decree and decides upon a declarative vow, known as the "serment au Jeu de Paume" (The Tennis Court Oath), not to dissolve until the constitution has been established
  • June 22: National Assembly meets in church of St Louis, joined by a majority of clergy
  • June 23: Two companies of French guards mutiny in the face of public unrest. Louis XVI holds a Séance Royale, puts forward his 35-point program aimed at allowing the continuation of the three estates.
  • June 24: 48 nobles, headed by the Duke of Orléans, side with the Third Estate. A significant number of the clergy follow their example.
  • June 27: Louis recognises the validity of the National Assembly, and orders the First and Second Estates to join the Third.
  • June 30: Large crowd storms left bank prison and frees mutinous French Guards
  • July 1: Louis recruits more troops, among them many foreign mercenaries
  • July 9: National Assembly reconstitutes itself as National Constituent Assembly
  • July 11: Necker dismissed by Louis; populace sack the monasteries, ransack aristocrats' homes in search of food and weapons
  • July 12: Camille Desmoulins announces the dismissal of Necker to the Paris crowd. The Prince de Lambesc appears at the Tuilleries with an armed guard - a soldier and civilian are killed.
  • July 13: National Guard formed in Paris, of middle class men.
  • July 14: Storming of the Bastille; de Launay, (the governor), Foulon (the Secretary of State) and de Flesselles (the then equivalent of the mayor of Paris), amongst others, are massacred.
  • July 15: Lafayette appointed Commander of the National Guard.
  • July 16: Necker recalled, troops pulled out of Paris
  • July 17: The beginning of the Great Fear, the peasantry revolt against feudalism and a number of urban disturbances and revolts. Many members of the aristocracy flee Paris to become émigrés.
  • July 18: Publication of Desmoulins' La France libre favouring a republic and arguing that revolutionary violence was justified.
  • July 27: Louis XVI accepts the tricolor cockade.
  • August 4: Surrender of feudal rights : The August Decrees
  • August 26 The Assembly adopts The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
  • September 11 The National Assembly grants suspensive veto to Louis XVI; Louis fails to ratify the August acts of the National Assembly.
  • October 5-6: Outbreak of the Paris mob; Liberal monarchical constitution; the Women's March on Versailles
  • October 6 Louis XVI agrees to ratify the August Decrees, Palace of Versailles stormed.

Louis and the National Assembly move to Paris.

  • November 2: Church property nationalised and otherwise expropriated
  • November: First publication of Desmoulins' weekly Histoire des Révolutions ...
  • December: National Assembly ddistinguishes between 'active' (monied) and 'passive' (property-less) citizens - only the active could vote
  • December 12 Assignats are used as legal tender



Legislative Assembly[edit]


National Convention[edit]




The Directory[edit]





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